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5 Tips Every Family Caregiver Needs (Canada)

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Whether you’re new to caregiving or a seasoned caregiver, these five tips can help you feel supported, organized and keep your own health top of mind.

Get Support.
Family caregiving can take its toll on caregivers – mentally, physically and emotionally. You do not have to do it alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or accept someone’s offer to help. Keep a running list on your phone or close to you so you can pass along a task to helping hands.There are numerous resources and communities available you can utilize for support and inspiration. Below are a few:

  • Caregiver Stress Relief Community is an online caregiver community providing resources and connecting caregivers to one another to lift each other up.
  • Remember For Alzheimer’s Community is a supportive community of those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
  • Carers Canada is a national coalition of diverse federal and provincial organizations that join with carers, providers, policy makers and other stakeholders to affect positive change for carers.

Finding time for respite or a break from caregiving is critical to your success and health. Whether respite comes in the form of family, friends or professional caregivers, time away for you to recharge and rest is just as good for you as it is for your loved one.

To find professional respite near you, visit homeinstead.ca.

Those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia may be eligible for a dementia home care grant. Hilarity for Charity® and the Home Instead Senior Care® network partner to award home care grants to those providing care to loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Learn more about the program and submit an application.

Take care of your health.
In order to care for others, you should first care for yourself. Many family caregivers tend to put their own health on hold. This blog post: 10 Tips for Healthy Aging includes suggestions that can be implemented at any age and are the groundwork for healthy aging.

Staying healthy can actually help relieve stress that caregiving could cause. Exercising 30 minutes per day is recommended, but if that’s not possible, any physical movement is better than none. Eat healthy to maintain your energy and fuel your body. Keep fruits and veggies on hand for snacks, drink plenty of water and don’t skip meals.

While providing care for loved ones, be cognizant of your own emotional and physical signs of stress.

Polish your communication skills.
Caregivers shoulder many responsibilities, but one of the most crucial may be the ability to effectively communicate with family members, physicians and employers if you’re still working.

The primary family caregiver typically knows the ins and outs, routines and nuances of a loved one’s care. Communicating these and other needs with other family members can be challenging though, especially if family is geographically dispersed. The 50/50 Rule® offers adult children resources to improve communication, develop teamwork and make decisions together while dividing the workload in caring for aging parents.

According to research done by Home Instead, Inc, franchisor for the Home Instead Senior Care network, 65 percent of working caregivers report caregiving has put a strain on their career. Not only do you like your job, but you need it to pay the bills. So how do you broach the subject of family caregiving without the fear that you could be jeopardizing your job? These four conversation starters might help.

The Daughter’s in the WorkplaceSM education program features multiple resources for working family caregivers that you may find useful.

Organize Important Documents.
Caring for a loved one requires caregivers to understand and likely manage another person’s financial, legal and medical affairs. Having all these important documents in one place can help alleviate any unnecessary stress when the documents are needed. Caregiver Action Network has a helpful list of important documents including wills, insurance policies, medical records, retirement accounts and more that you can reference to start organizing. These downloadable documents can help you get started collecting your loved one’s records and information.

When considering how to get started with your own or your loved ones’ final years planning, it’s important to take the time to reflect and ask seven important questions.

Beth Ludden, Senior Vice President of Product Development at Genworth Financial says, “The biggest problem is that many people, because of a reluctance to face these kinds of issues, may fail to do so and that leaves individuals potentially at financial risk in their final years.”

To get started with final years planning, review these seven questions and supporting materials in the “Compose Your Life Song” educational program developed by Home Instead, Inc.

Navigating Long-term Care Insurance can be complicated. This educational guide is designed to help caregivers and seniors better understand the complex terminology and confusing terms and conditions.

Understanding health benefits provided through Canada’s national health care system can be confusing. Canada provides universal coverage for medically necessary health care services, but depending on what province a senior lives in, the coverage can vary. Supplemental coverage is often needed for care services and equipment beyond certain basics. Bookmark the Government of Canada’s website to find answers to questions you may have about health care in your province.

Practice Positive Self Talk and Gratitude
Inspiring self-care starts with you. Keeping a positive attitude about the caregiving situation you’re in can help you be more optimistic and look for the good that surrounds you. Sometimes a little perspective reminds caregivers there is a lot to be grateful for. This article has eight great tips to become more positive and focus on yourself as a caregiver.

Throughout the caregiving journey, there will be great, rewarding days as well as challenging ones. The key to managing both is finding happiness. Three happiness hacks: enjoying nature, keeping a gratitude journal and putting your cell phone down may help increase your happiness.

Last revised: January 10, 2019

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